new plantings for RI beach house

by mariann bishop
(Westerly RI)

front of house {can't see the island}

front of house {can't see the island}



Hi there!

I'm enjoying your website.
Last fall my husband and i took out all the OLD shrubs from the front of our house in RI{House is 24' across}. We rent it out June-Sept. i'm including a picture of the house w/out the bushes. No one uses the front door as an entrance so years ago we took out the walk way. i want to go more w/a beachy kind of look even though we are a 1/2 mile from the ocean. On the far side of the house i did a planting of different grasses. on the close side{driveway side} we will be moving the 23 year old huge hydrangea to another area of the yard. i'd would love to use rocks as "mulch".
Also i love the blues and golds and sage in shrubbery.
Love the Blue rocket{?} cedar, Weeping blue spruce, weeping gold cedar and LOVE grasses and boxwood too. Since i'm not around to maintain it at the height of growing season, flowering things are probably not a great choice except maybe daylilies? When facing the house we have a planted{kind of kidney shaped,8'long} island to the right w/a dwarf green lace japanese maple, gold cedar bush, gold euyonomus, dwarf blue spruce bush that is shaped almost like a cascading water feature.
We removed from the island the beautiful Scotch Broom because it got way too big and also the blue hydrangea for the same reason. {a landscaper did the planting for me}
i'm not adverse to putting in "points of interest" either!
We're looking for easy maintenance if possible.
What are your thoughts and Thank You!

ANSWER

Hi Mariann,
Many of the plants you mentioned that you like and also the existing ones (except for the Japanese Maple) are evergreen. You mentioned also that you love grasses.

It's funny, years ago I had a beach house also. It had lots of overgrown shrubs in the front. What we did was remove them and create a perennial garden right up against the house.

Do you think you might like this? It's a lot of fun. I know your concerned about maintenance, but there are quite a few perennials you could use that would only need minor maintenance once or twice a year. How nice it is to have a garden that is not stagnant (as evergreens can be), full of textures, colors and interest in the summer!

You could use Maiden Grass, Fountain Grass, Sedum 'Autumn Joy', Russian Sage, Shrub Roses (ok, not a perennial but quite carefree and nice for Rhode Island), just to mention a few. Also, I would place some taller plants at the corners...Lilac and Buttefly Bush.

If this is not the way you want to go, let me know and I'll make different suggestions, but I think it would be great. You could also use some evergreen shrubs in the background and add perennials in the front of them.

Susan

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Apr 06, 2010
Thank You
by: mariann

Thanks Susan,
Although it is tempting {all perennial bed] i would really like it to be a combo w/interesting shrubbery, grasses, flowers and "point[s] of interest". we have large perennial beds here at home in MA so i know that in the heat of summer they require more care than my renters would provide. They don't mind watering the annual planters that are in the backyard and deck areas.
i do like the Russian sage and Sedums and grasses you mentioned! What do you think of the rock mulch idea? i thinl i might be looking for a sculptured beach look instead of a dunes gardeny look????
thanks again!

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
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